DALLAS — After listening to a jumble of census numbers detailing Texas’ continued population boom, especially the explosion in his town, Frisco Mayor Maher Maso seems almost apologetic.
“We just can’t seem to help it,” he said.
The latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that the staggering growth of small and medium-size cities across the Dallas region shows no sign of slowing.
Denton is no stranger to growth. With the University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University, burgeoning public schools and large corporate businesses making their home here, the city’s population continues to expand.
The U.S. Census shows Denton’s estimated 2013 population climbing to 123,099 residents, a 7.8 percent increase from 2010. Denton County’s growth shows a much larger jump with the 2013 population ballooning to 753,363, a 13.7 percent increase from 2010.
In a quarterly report for Denton ISD released in February 2014, Templeton Demographics and Metrostudy show the number of households in the Denton school district swelled from 47,811 in 2010 to 52,288 in 2014.
Chris Rosprim, a local real estate agent with Keller Williams and former board president of the Greater Denton/Wise County Association of Realtors, said he doesn’t expect the growth to subside.
“As long as there’s continuing enrollment at UNT and TWU and businesses keep coming in, I don’t see it slowing down,” he said.
The city isn’t alone in experiencing growth. Outlying towns in Denton County have also experienced a significant increase in residents.
From January 2010 to July 2014, the census shows Dish increasing by 73.6 percent, Trophy Club by 39.9 percent and Little Elm by 36.7 percent.
Rosprim said the housing market in these areas reflect the surge.
“I had a four-bedroom, two-bath home in Krum listed for $155,000 and we had multiple inquiries,” he said. “It was immediately put under contract and closed. These surrounding communities are all experiencing similar growth.”
And five Texas cities are among the U.S. top 10 in population gain between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014. Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth each added from 18,000 to almost 36,000 people in that 12-month period.
But just below them come two considerably smaller cities, Collin County neighbors, which added more people in the year than anywhere else in Texas except for the Big Five. Those would be Frisco, with almost 8,000 new residents, a 5.8 percent population increase in one year, and McKinney, up 7,600, a more than 5 percent increase.
“We don’t focus on the numbers too much,” Maso said. “It isn’t a measure of success. But the main difference here is our growth has been sustained.”
When Maso moved to Frisco in 1992, it was a city of about 6,000, he said. By mid-2014, the census estimates, Frisco’s population had grown to 145,035.
“Texas has been growing; North Texas has been growing,” he said. “Sometimes you think that’s the norm.”
But it turns out there’s no place quite like Texas.
Until this year, Texas was alone with three cities of 1 million or more people. California tied that when San Jose crossed the 1 million mark. But Texas also had five of the top 10 cities in population gain, and six of the 13 fastest-growing by percentage — San Marcos, Georgetown, Frisco, Conroe, McKinney and New Braunfels.
San Marcos, along the booming Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio, was the fastest-growing city in the U.S. for the third consecutive year, with its population climbing 7.9 percent between 2013 and 2014 to 58,892.
Steve Murdock, a former head of the U.S. Census and now director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University, offered an example to put Texas’ growth in perspective.
“It’s important to understand that while the Houston MSA [metropolitan statistical area] grew by about 570,000 people to around 6.5 million from 2010 to 2014, and the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA grew by 528,000 to about 7 million, the New York MSA, with 20 million people, grew less than either of those two areas,” Murdock said. “It grew by 526,000,” or roughly one-third the growth rate of the two Texas cities.
New York, Los Angeles and Chicago still top the list of the 20 largest cities in the U.S., but Houston, San Antonio and Dallas all make the Top 10, Murdock said, with Austin now at 11 with more than 900,000 residents, a jump of more than 100,000 people since 2010.
“So in five years, one-ninth of its population came to Austin,” Murdock said.
“New York still had 8.5 million people compared with 2.2 million in Houston, but the growth of our cities stands out,” he said. “Austin grew by 12.5 percent, and the only other city in the double-digit range from 2010 to 2014 was Charlotte, N.C.”
While New York grew by 3.9 percent, San Antonio was up 8.2 percent, Dallas 7 percent and Fort Worth 9.5 percent, Murdock said.
And then there are places like Frisco, McKinney, Plano and Denton, all growing fast.
“Here’s an eye-opener,” Maso said. “The majority of people who will live in Collin and Denton counties aren’t here yet. There will be approximately 2.5 million people in Collin and 2 million in Denton in the next 25 years.
“The corporations are coming in here, and when I talk regionally, I tell everyone that Texas is a great state, with lower unemployment, and then I talk about North Texas doing better than the rest of the state. And of course I end up with Frisco — from good to better to best.”
Lloyd Potter, the Texas state demographer, said the economic growth in the counties north of Dallas “has been fueling the demand for more housing, because people want to live close to where they work.”
And that has led to two very different growth models. Dallas County has seen outbound domestic migration to other parts of Texas and the U.S. in recent years, but balanced that with migration from other counties and high birth rates with its young population.
“But that’s a very different dynamic than what’s happening in Frisco and McKinney, where a small percentage of immigration is international but a large percentage domestic,” Potter said.
The latest round of census numbers continues to show strong growth in the Texas Triangle — the areas connected by I-35 from the Dallas area to San Antonio, the Interstate 45 corridor between Dallas and Houston, and the areas along Interstate 10 between Houston and San Antonio.
Elsewhere, Texas is a far different sort of place, with 102 mostly rural counties in the east, the Panhandle and in West Texas continuing to lose population since 2010.
But the in-fill between Austin and San Antonio in towns like San Marcos and New Braunfels bolsters what some call the new D-FW.
“These might be two metropolitan statistical areas,” Murdock said, “but they’ll be linked in such a way that I don’t know whether people realize when they’ve left one to get to the other.”
And the smaller towns in between are growing in such a way as to be almost indistinguishable from their neighbors.
“I think we’ll continue to see that in much the same way as we do now in Dallas-Fort Worth,” he said.
Denton Record-Chronicle staff writer Caitlyn Jones contributed to this report.